POPE-POURRI: 'Light' news items, anecdotes about Pope Benedict now

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00Friday, May 16, 2008 11:02 PM
The Benedict effect on the tenor
who sang at St. Patrick's


NB: I changed the newspaper's title, "Catch the 'next Pavarotti' tonight", for my purpose here.

CINCINATTI, OHIO, May 16 - When Salvatore Licitra was asked to sing for Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's U.S. visit last month, the tenor didn't expect the emotion he felt.

"I was thinking I would sing to a normal person, but when I saw the pope coming inside the church (New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral), I have to tell you, he is not a normal person," Licitra says over a Perrier at the downtown Hilton on Monday. "I felt something that changed me. I felt his presence, not as a person, but as one who has a connection to God, a spirituality. It was hugely emotional."


[Licitra sang the 'Domine Deus' from Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle during the distribution of Communion at St. Patrick's.]

[The rest of the article is about Licitra and his career. I posted the whole item in NOTABLES.]

00Monday, May 19, 2008 12:53 AM
Ordering the calendar
Papabear: I suggest you email photo@ossrom.va as given above. I think I'm going to do it that way. If I fill in the form and send by snail mail it's just too much. Now that we have email it's so much easier. I have ordered and received DVDs from CTV - and their offices are next door to Oss Rom photo service "shop".
Sorry I didn't reply to your post above earlier - I've only chust seen it.
Luff, Mary xxxxx
00Monday, May 19, 2008 2:53 PM


IgnatiusPress announces it will be out June 20.


Availability: On Back Order
ISBN: 9781586172909
Length: 145 pages
Edition: Hardcover
Your Price: $21.95

Available June 20th!
This is the Official Commemorative book on Pope Benedict’s 2008 apostolic visit to the USA April 15 – 20. This lavishly illustrated, large-size edition, has dozens of fabulous photos of all the papal visit venues during his historic visit, with inspiring, informative commentary on the various papal events, and also includes the texts all the Pope’s addresses, homilies, and his prayer at Ground Zero.

This beautifully produced, high quality coffee-table book is a deluxe edition for all those who want to have a keepsake treasure of this powerful six day visit to the USA by Pope Benedict who won the hearts and minds of countless people with his inspiring words and gestures of love, truth, hope and compassion.

From his first stepping off the Shepherd One plane in Washington, to his White House visit and warm exchange with President Bush, the moving, festive Masses in two baseball stadiums, his inspiring address to the United Nations, his talks to U S Bishops, Catholic educators and to youth, and deeply moving visit to Ground Zero, the many memorable moments of Pope Benedict’s apostolic journey are captured in moving pictures and words in this collector’s edition.

Lavishly illustrated with dozens of inspiring photos!
Includes all the Pope's talks and homilies!
Large 8.5 x 10.5 coffee-table size

Sample images:

00Tuesday, May 20, 2008 12:03 AM


The sommelier served OJ
to his illustrious guest,
but everyone else enjoyed
the Ligurian wines

By Patrizia Albanese

May 19, 2008

The mountaintop shrine of Nostra Signora della Guardia.

"Excuse me for being late."

Before greeting those who were to serve him dinner, the Pope apologized for being late. To general amazement!

True, dinner had been ready as scheduled at 9 p.m., in the third-floor dining room at the bishop's quarters in the Shrine of the Madonna della Guardia. And now it is half an hour later. But everyone knew the Pope had come in late from Savona because of the fog.

A winterlike fog had enveloped the shrine at the peak of Mt. Fignano in a thick shroud that kept the Pope from arriving there by helicopter as planned.

Instead, his helicopter from Savona had to land in the port of Genoa, and from there, he had to take a car from the city to the tortuous road that winds up the the top of the 2200-foot mountain.

The dinner for the Pope - Ligurian dishes, but strictly without garlic, which the Pope does not tolerate - was prepared by the faithful ladies who keep house for Mons. Marco Granata at the Shrine, but was served by a chosen corps of waiters from the area's finest restaurants, and a sommelier par excellence.

The privileged persons who waited on the Pope: Moreno Babbini, owner and sommelier of 'Il genovino'restaurant; Alex Molinari, owner of 'Lord Nelson' pub in Chiavari; Marina Bertolino, maitresse d'hote of the Antica Osteria della Castagna; and Giovanni Losio, son of the owner of Bruxaboschi. Then there were Marco Gardella and Valeria Isola, children of the owners of La Pineta, who were tapped to prepare breakfast for the Pope the next day.

To say that all of them were very emotional about the experience is, of course, expected. But it is absolutely the case, says Moreno Babbini. Who, betraying his metier as a sommelier, had the privilege of pouring orange juice into the only goblet placed before the Holy Fahter.

Who showed his appreciation, saying, "Ah, so you know my weaknesses!"

And that was all he drank, says Alex Molinari, who owns a pub as well as a restaurant.

Supper itself was 'very frugal'.

"It lasted about an hour, and at around 10:30, His Holiness retired for the evening."

Babbini commented, "He liked the raviolini in broth. He tasted the risotto with asparagus. He also tried the cima [a Genoese recipe for veal stuffed with minced veal, spinach, cheese, pistachioes, and onions], but he only ate the stuffing from two slices. He tasted all the desserts, though, and admired the cake sculpture prepared by Poldo."

Eleven others ate with the Pope - Cardinal Bertone seated to his left and Cardinal Bagnasco to his right. And they all appreciated the Ligurian wines, Babbino says, including Vermentino doc of Valpolcevera, Rossese doc of Docleacqua, and Schacchetra from the Cinqueterre.

Moreno Babbini was justly proud: " Mons. Georg, the Pope's secretary, was a great 'customer'. He wanted to know about all the three labels served, and it was clear he appreciated them all. And so did the cardinals!"

He noted that both cardinals were so engrossed in talking to the Pope that 'they were rather slow to eat."

'The atmosphere was most pleasant," the sommelier says. "Everything went very well indeed."



The following day, hundreds of pilgrims unexpectedly turned up at the Shrine of La Guardia to greet the Pope.

The Pope began his day with private prayers before the image of the Virgin, after which he offered
the papal Golden Rose on her altar in homage and devotion.

He then proceded to the city for a full day of events.

00Tuesday, May 20, 2008 10:36 PM


A German shepherd for Italy
By John Thavis

GENOA, Italy, May 18 (CNS) — When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, many Italians figured the German Pope might pay less attention to them than his predecessor.

Pope John Paul II, a Pole, made it a point to reach out pastorally to Italians in Rome and beyond, crisscrossing the country on more than 120 visits [in a quarteer century]. But John Paul was younger, and as the first non-Italian pope in more than 450 years, he had an extra reason to remind Italians of his affection and interest.

Benedict, it turns out, has been no less attentive to his adopted country. Already he’s made pastoral visits to 11 Italian cities, and more are on his calendar.

These are not cameo appearances, either. In Genoa and Savona over the weekend, he presided over seven major events and delivered six talks, spending more than 12 hours with the faithful.

The venues in Genoa were packed, but of course not everyone shows up at the Masses and other encounters. Italians are divided over the role of the church and the voice of the pope in social affairs. I think one reason is that he’s a constant presence in the culture. It’s much different to host the Pope for a five-day visit, as the United States did in April. Italians have him every day.

The Italians who crowded the streets in Genoa seemed to welcome the German Pope as one of their own. For the people I spoke with, his being German was a total non-issue.

The Pope knows Italy, having lived in the country for nearly 30 years. He also knows how to hit the right notes when he travels here, tapping into local history and tradition to make his larger points.

His first stop in Liguria was at the popular 16th-century shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, where he placed the offering of a gilt rose.

Standing near the historic port of Genoa this afternoon, he described the string of coastal churches and Marian sanctuaries positioned like a “crown between the mountains and the sea.”

The Pope commemorated the many missionaries who left Genoa for the New World. But he also recalled the ordinary emigrants, materially poor but rich in faith and spiritual values, which they transplanted to the Americas. In a sense, he recognized that they were missionaries, too.


Andrea Tornielli posted this picture in a stamp-size format on his blog today -
he was commenting on the Pope's lovely and touching reflections on youth in his
speech to the young people of Genoa -but gave no information except that it was
obviously taken in Genoa. I can't blow it up farther because the original was
so small.

In the preparatory stories I read about the trip to Liguria, I don't remember
seeing one that mentioned his previous trips to the area - and he could not
have failed to visit one of Italy's most important and historic cities all these years.

00Wednesday, May 21, 2008 1:36 AM


More stories 'discovering' Benedict's appeal to the young (and imagine how much more stunned they would be if they had any idea of the Benaddiction he inspires in the not-so-young! Perhaps it will take them another three years to get it!

Benedict and his children:
An instant bonding

Translated from

GENOA - Even before he speaks, the Holy Father communicates to young people with his eyes. At length and intensely. With the indulgent affection of a father, the smile of someone well-pleased with his children.

Joseph Ratzinger's young people are transfixed and enchanted by his smile which is evident in amplified form on the maxi-screens - and they forget about the rain, they sing and cheer, they wave their banners, flags and streamers proudly - representing parishes, associations, movements.

They let loose a rain of confetti to celebrate, but they are not mere bits of colored paper. Each carries a wish, a desire, a prayer intention.

Indeed, it seems as though the spiritual bond between the Pope and these young people is established right away.

"And we had thought he was someone a bit distant," comments someone who is clearly happy to be proven wrong.

4,500 passes had been distributed for this meeting with the Pope at Piazza Matteotti, with a white stage erected in front of the Palazzo Ducale, in the heart of a Genoa which has faced an aging population and empty cribs in the past several years.

But the Pope goes straight to the heart of the matter. "You are the youth of Genoa. And may you always remain young!" were his first words to them.

The piazza erupts in a stupendous ovation, and from that point on, the rapport with the man who is addressing them almost visibly consolidates to perfection.

Their representatives had spoken earlier - Paolo Costa and Simonetta Saveri - telling the Holy Father about the 'mission of the youth to the youth' that has been launched in many parts of the diocese, "so that we may be the first ones to announce the good news of the Risen Lord to our contemporaries".

And the Pope in turn invites them to "be united but not closed off, humble but not fearful, simple but not naive, thoughtful but not complicated" in the task of serving others, working for the betterment of the city and the community.

Even as he reminds them that to be young is to be good and generous following the way of Christ.

And they caught on.

"He tells us how to face the routine of existence with faith and joy," says Lea di Vito.

"He lets us know that on our own, we will get nowhere," says Marco Lanza, a young catechist. "He makes us understand we have a duty to society while keeping clear and firm what we believe as Christians."

Luca Bianchi, who was with a group that had walked all the way to the city center from their suburban parish, said his first reaction was great surprise. At what?

'At his youthfulness! How youthful he looks, and and so is his message. Almost as if he for today, at least, he feels as young as young as we are."

Luca Mazzolini, who is a city councilor though he is only in his early 20s, said, "Today has been a great experience of the Church and for the Church. I am so proud Genoa has responded so well, despite the bad weather."

Yes, observed someone else. "More rains today than yesterday - but look, how many, many more we are compared to those who marched against the Pope yesterday!"

Papa Ratzinger closed the encounter by giving the Gospel to some of the young people as a token of the missionary mandate he had given them, exchanging embraces with them that they will remember all their lives.

And to all he said, "Arrivederci in Sydney", saying that even those would not be there would be able to follow the events even from home.

Avvenire, 20 maggio 2008

Goodbye, protocol!
Benedict hugs, and lets himself be hugged

You would think it had never happened before!

The first one to let herself go, forgetting protocol, was a young girl, called to the stage along with others to greet the Pope before undertaking to be 'missionaries of peace'.

Benedict XVI appeared to say something to her, shook her hand and then handed her a small book (the Gospel). She hesitated an instant, then decided to hug him close, as one would do with a beloved grandfather.

And everyone else in line followed suit. Nor did he draw back at all. He returned all their hugs with obvious warmth. It was clear that anyone who thought John Paul II had a monopoly on easy familiarity with the young knows better now.

Nor did Benedict forget to refer to his beloved predecessor, speaking to the crowd. Who responded with their usual resounding ovation for the Pope who gave them World Youth Day and a rebirth of Christian inspiration.

Afterwards, many recalled the Benedict's closing words, almost like a new set of commandments:

Go forth, dearest young people, into the circles of life, in your parishes, in the most difficult neighborhoods, on the streets!

Proclaim Christ the Lord, hope of the world....

Be united among yourselves, help each other to live and grow in the faith and in Christian living..

Be united but not closed off. Be humble, but not fearful. Be simple, but not naive. Be thoughtful, but not complicated. Enter into dialog with everyone, but remain yourselves.

He left them singing and cheering, still oblivious of the rain....

The item has no byline - but where was the writer during WYD in Cologne, the youth rally in John Paul's own Cracow, Pacaembu Stadium and Facenda Speranca in Brazil, the mega-Agora in Loreto last September, even the small rally in Vienna's St. Stephen Plaza, and then the rally in Yonkers, not to mention all the diocesan gatherings of the youth at St. Peter's Square these past three years?

P.S. It just occurred to me: Was there any special reason why there was no youth rally scheduled during the Bavarian trip at all? He did meet young children with their parents in Munich Cathedral, but that was all. Maybe becausee he already met a million youth in Cologne in 2005? But those were not all German!

00Friday, May 23, 2008 1:33 PM

Ignatius Press is plugging
JOSEPH & CHICO on the Zenit
site with the above, which
makes an excellent bookmark!
00Saturday, May 24, 2008 4:33 AM
Bush to visit Pope in June

Washington, May. 21, 2008 (CWNews.com) - US President George W. Bush will visit the Vatican in June during a trip to Europe, the White House has confirmed.

President Bush will visit Germany, France, England, and Northern Ireland on his European tour, as well as Italy. The American leader visited Pope Benedict at the Vatican last June as well, in the first formal meeting since the Pontiff's election in 2005. More recently Bush welcomed Pope Benedict when he arrived in the US in April of this year.

In other news, Canada’s foreign minister Maxime Bernier is in Rome to meet with Italian officials. Bernier attended the Pope's general audience on May 21. Bernier, who is divorced, was recently in the news in his home country for his romantic liaison with a woman with ties to the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.


In the NCRegister blog, Edward Pentin comments:

Holy Father and President to Meet Again
By Edward Pentin

President Bush is to meet the Holy Father again in a few weeks, according to the White House. The President will be dropping in at the Vatican while on a European tour June 9-16.

It will essentially be a courtesy call, and will come just a couple of months after the President played host to Benedict XVI at the White House. It’s not clear exactly when Mr. Bush will come here, but sources say the meeting is likely to take place on June 13 – almost exactly a year since the President last visited the Pope.

It will be the third time the two men have met officially, and Mr. Bush’s fifth visit to the Vatican. That’s naturally led to speculation that the President, a Methodist, is considering becoming a Catholic, although there is no hard evidence to suggest that that’s true.

What’s more probable is that the main purpose of his trip to Italy is to greet his old friend Silvio Berlusconi, who was elected back into power in April, and it would have appeared rude not to call in on the Pope while he was here. Though it does underline how close this administration is to the Vatican on many issues.

The President's visit to Europe will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift. He’ll also be visiting Northern Ireland on the tour. That’s somewhere many people are hoping the Pope will also visit soon, though very unlikely in ‘08. John Paul II tried to do so in 1979, but couldn’t because of security concerns.

It would have been fascinating to have seen how the once virulent anti-Catholic Ian Paisley, the current First Minister of Northern Ireland, would have greeted the Pope, as he would be constitutionally obliged to do, but unfortunately the Protestant firebrand has announced he’s stepping down soon, so alas that won’t happen.

00Monday, May 26, 2008 2:28 PM

"A man holds a plastic figure depicting Pope Benedict XVI at the 97th German Katholikentag, or Catholic Church assembly, in Osnabrueck, northern Germany, on Friday, May 23, 2008. The figures are meant to be fixed in the car."

How is it that we continue seeing schlocky merchandise like this in an age where digital technology makes faithful detailed reproduction - even of facial features - routinely possible?

00Tuesday, May 27, 2008 12:44 AM

Books are usually not written about events that do not take place. But Pope Benedict's cancelled speaking engagement at Rome's La Sapienza University last January has already resulted in at least 3 books - 2 in his support, and one against [Micromega magazine's viscerally anti-Ratzinger editor Paolo Flores D'Arcais's instant harangue].

Science and faith:
The dialog resumes

by Daniele Piccini
Translated from

May 26, 2008

As Psychoanalysis 101 would have it, one must revisit the scene in order to recreate the trauma.

So, four months after Pope Benedict's cancelled visit to La Sapienza University, comes a new book by Fr. Giancarlo Pani, Ratzinger-Galileo alla Sapienza. Il caso Galileo: il metodo scientifico e la Bibbia (Ratzinger-Galileo at La Sapienza: The Galileo case: Scientific method and the Bible)(ed. Fr. Vincenzo D’Adamo, Sigma, Palermo, 2008, 80 pp.).

The book presented in Rome Friday, May 23, seeks to reread the Galileo case in a new light, showing that conflict between science and religion is not inevitable nor intrinsically justifiable.

Introducing the round-table discussion was Fr. Jose Funes, director of teh Vatican Observatory, who said: "Between science and faith, there have been dark moments and conflicts. But even these can serve growth and development provided dialog is kept open."

Luciano Maiani, physicist and president of the National Research Council of Italy, underscored that in the scientific world, contrary to the general impression, "there is great reciprocal respect among scientists who are of different faiths. The scientific debate, far from creating divisions, can create strong bonds among persons of different religions, with the common understanding that secularity and the autonomy of academic research are respected."

But Giorgio Israel, professor of mathematics at La Sapienza, also pointed out that the scientific world is dominated by a false prejudice: "It would seem that in order to justify one's own scientific standing, one should declare that one believes in materialism and naturalism. This is a distorted view. There are many scientists who are not materialists. With that view, one risks thinking that the only form of rationality possible is mathematical."

No one denies that history has had moments of conflict between science and faith, Israel said. "The leading players of teh scientific revolution were all persecuted by the Church. But Galileo, Descartes, Copernicus, Newton and Spinoza were really secular theologians in their thinking. The reason for the conflicts was the intolerance of the religious authorities of their time, not any intrinsic incompatibility between religion and science."

The author of the book, Fr. Giancarlo Pani, professor of Christian history at La Sapienza, reviewed the scientific biography of Galileo and concluded that his religiosity was sincere: "In his letters to Cristina di Lorena, Galileo states that nature and Scriptures cannot contradict each other because both come from God, and that it cannot be the goal of 'we Catholic astronomers' - as Galileo says - to 'show the Bible false' - Galileo was a profoundly religious man."

In addition to Pani's essay on Galileo, the book also includes an excerpt from a lecture on 'A Turning Point for Europe' given by then Cardinal Ratzinger at La Sapienza in February 1990, which contained the mis-used quotation from Paul Feyerabend about Galileo that caused 67 physics professors to protest the Pope's presence at Sapienza for the opening of teh academic year last January.

The new book by Pani and the discussions it will provoke mark a new stage in the continuing dialog between science and faith which has been proceeding slowly. Eppur si muove. [And yet, it does move!]

RomaSette, 26 maggio 2008

From the book blurb:

Giancarlo Pani - Vincenzo D'Adamo
Ratzinger-Galileo alla Sapienza
Il caso Galileo: il metodo scientifico e la Bibbia
80 pp., February 2008

"I disapprove of what you say,
but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
- S.G.Tallentyre, The Friends of Voltaire, 1906

“Papa sì!”. “ Papa no!”. “No-Vat!”.

The disputed visit of the Holy Father, that had been scheduled for January 17, this year, to inaugurate the academic year at Rome's La Sapienza University, led to heated public debate and gave birth to what some now call the 'Ratzinger-Galileo case'.

The trigger was a misused and misunderstood statement about Galileo by the 20th-century philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend, which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had cited in a lecture on the crisis of confidence in modern science which he gave at La Sapienza in February 1990.

In order to clear the way for reflection, getting rid of ideological prejudices, and towards an informed and respectful cultural confrontation, this volume includes a transcript of Cardinal Ratzinger's lecture on February 15, 1990, a commentary by Giorgio Israel, and the essay by Giancarlo Pani on "The Galileo case: Scientific method and the Bible".

Giancarlo Pani, author, is a professor of the History of Christianity at La Sapienza's faculty of humanistic sciences. He has written Un centenaire à rappeler: l’édition sixtine de la Septante, in Theorie et pratique de l’exégèse (A centenary to remember: the Sistine edition of the Septuagint, in Theorie et pratieque de l'exegese, Genève 1990; he edited the Italian edition of Martin Luther's commentary on Paul's Letter to the Romans (Genova, Marietti, 1991-1992); and has written the book Paolo, Agostino, Lutero: alle origini del mondo moderno(Paul, Augustine and Luther: At the origins of the modern world) (Soveria Mannelli, 2005). He edits the magazine Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni (Roma).

Vincenzo D’Adamo, editor, has a degree in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Since 2003, he has been the rector at the Chapel at La Sapienza University.

00Thursday, May 29, 2008 12:51 AM
The Cardinal and the Deacons

Here's a sweet story that appeared in the May 28 issue of the NCRegister online:

A Future Pope Ate Here...and Here's Proof


James Barthen, vice president of media affairs for the Pittburgh Symphony Orchestra, called me after reading my earlier post about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's visit to the cafe run by Manfred Honeck. Honeck is the new music director of the PSO, and the Register features him in the June 1 issue on page one ("Maestro: Faith, Family and Music in a Conductor's Life").
What we couldn't fit in the print version was this question Register correspondent Robert Rauhut posed to Conductor Honeck:

What is your relationship with Pope Benedict XVI?
I do not know him personally, but I have to tell you an interesting story. You know, I have a little café/restaurant in this Nenzinger Himmel, which is run by my nephew now, and about two months ago I got the guest book into my hands, and I opened it and imagine: Cardinal Josef Ratzinger with deacons form the Archdiocese of Munich visited it in 1979. He was in this café and has signed personally. This has fascinated me and we thought: What? The future Pope was here in my restaurant, in Nenzinger Himmel.
Now I have had copied that page and I will hang an image there, because there has never been something like this in that village, that a Pope stayed there. My father laid out that guest book in 1964. That is the year of the first entry. Now I do not remember exactly what he wrote, it was something like “Archbishop and deacons assembled in the kingdom of heaven!”

Cardinal Ratzinger was playing on the name of the village, Nenzinger Himmel, which translates literally as Nenzinger Heaven.
Not only that, but the copy of the page that Jim Barthen just sent me suggests that Cardinal Ratzinger (or one of his party) was having a bit of artistic fun as well. At the bottom of the entry is a drawing of what appears to be a bishop's mitre (with the cardinal's seal on it, I think, if that is the "bear" of Benedict we see). Up and down the two points of the mitre, as if ascending and descending the hills around Nenzinger Himmel, are stick figures of people--likely the "deacons" accompanying the cardinal.
Here is a pdf of the page:

Download Guest_Book.pdf

--John Burger

[SM=g27823] [SM=g27823] [SM=g27823]

00Thursday, May 29, 2008 1:21 AM
What an interesting anecdote! Thanks for the find, Linda. I managed to lift the PDF page as an image - the top part of the page is slightly cut off in the original.

The 'caption' translates as -

Munich cardinal and deans gathered
all together in the Kingdom of Heaven

'Dekane' means 'deans', not deacons (the German word for deacons is 'Diakone') - and since each prelate wrote a place name after his name, they were probably academics from various cities dining with their archbishop.

00Saturday, May 31, 2008 4:41 AM
Pope Benedict XVI received high-ranking Volkswagen representatives

Piëch and Winterkorn presented ambulance vehicles for Africa

29 May 2008

Pope Benedict XVI received Prof. Dr. h.c. Ferdinand K. Piëch, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, and Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, in the Vatican City on Wednesday. The Volkswagen representatives presented the head of the Catholic Church with two specially equipped Volkswagen T5 to be deployed as ambulance vehicles in Africa.

“It is a great honor for Volkswagen to personally present Pope Benedict XVI with two innovative vehicles dedicated to helping people in need on the African continent,” Piëch emphasized. According to Winterkorn, Europe’s largest automobile manufacturer and its workforce were not only committed to reliable quality products but also to social responsibility and vital aid projects all over the world.

The two T5 ambulance vehicles are fitted with extensive medical equipment. They will be deployed in the service of hospitals in Liberia und Rwanda.

Volkswagen released the above photo of the meeting in the AutoChannel online, but only a part of one ambulance
can be seen. The presentation was made after the General Audience last week.

00Monday, June 2, 2008 9:29 AM

My day to catch up on Benedict books - this time from the Vatican publishing house.

In May, 3 titles:

1) On the trip the US, 232 pp; 2) About St. Paul, 128 pp; 3) Reflections on DCE
by Curial officials and ambassadors to the Holy See, 256 pp.
A fourth one is announced, but no cover picture available: "Vado e vengo da voi"
(I am going and will be with you), 100 pp., which collects the Holy Father's homilies
during the 2008 Lenten season.

In April, also 3 titles:

1) Teachings of Benedict XVI, Vol. III (Jan-Jun 2007); 2) Mary, Mother of Yes,
104 pp.; and 3) The Apostles, art edition, illustrated, 176 pp.

In February and March, one each:

1) Letter on the collaboration between man and woman,
written for the CDF. Text and commmentary, 96pp; and
2) Benedict XVI's Saints, 154 pp., on the saints
he has canonized.

In January, 2 'message' booklets:

1) Benedict XVI's Lenten message for 2008, 6 pp;
2) The undelivered lecture at La Sapienza, 32 pp.

00Sunday, June 8, 2008 10:44 PM

After the meetign between Benedict XVI and the Prime Minister of italy on Friday, the Italian newspapers made much of Silvio Berlusconi's gesture of kissing the Papal ring upon arrival for his audience with the Pope and again, before leaving.

Everyone said that this has not been done by any Prime Minister or President of Italy since the 1970s, as their way of demonstrating that Italy was a secular state. [How silly, but nevertheless, perfectly their choice to do so or not!]

More importantly, Berlusconi himself had never done so, not in his first two terms as Prime Minister (and his first meeting with benedict XVI in November 2006), not even when John Paul II made a visit to the Italian Parliament.

Before the mid-1970s, presidents and prime ministers belonging to the Christian Democratic Party, did it routinely. But after the dissolution of the political party that had been seen as the 'party of the Vatican' since the immediate postwar era, no president or prime minister has done so, with the exception of President (now senator for life) Cossiga in 1985. At which time, Cossiga explained that he did it as a private citizen at a private audience, and that he would not do it in his official capacity. {On the occasions when Cossiga has met Benedict XVI since he became Pope, he has always kissed the Papal ring.]

But the favorite example drawn by the newspapers was that of President Giovanni Gronchi who, in December 1955, not only kissed the ring of Pius XII but even genuflected while doing so - as did the rest of his delegation.

"And they stayed kneeling as though ready to kiss the papal slippers until the Felici photographer was satisfied they had acted out the right scenario", according to one newspaper account cited sarcastically - who else? - La Repubblica.

The anti-clerical newspaper claims that even the old Canons of the Congregation for Papal Ceremonials dating to 1588 only require that a dignitary approach the Pope with a triple bow. [How petty! When Italian even has a specific word - 'baciamano' - for the time-honored popular custom of kissing the Pope's ring and even kneeling to do so. Catholic sovereigns continue to render the homage, and so do the secular leaders of some Catholic countries. ]

The Popes themselves do not demand it, obviously, but how can the Successor of Peter refuse to allow a Catholic to show his homage to the Prince of Apostles?

So why did Berlusconi kiss the Pope's ring this time? Repubblica depicts it as a 'blow against the secular state' in its sarcastic but obviously outraged take on it:

The Prime Minister's 'baciamano' was a rite that reunifies the spheres of religion and politics. It is such a sign of deference, such an obvious promise of obedience, an an act of obsequiousness proclaimed beyond words and in fact, by the body itself. [A view only of those who interpret everything through anti-clerical ideology. The average Italian probably was simply pleased to see that the Prime Minister behaved as anordinary Italian would in the presence of the Pope.]

These are things that become symbols and images of power. Now, there is no politician who understand more about such images than Berlusconi. No one knows better than he how to calibrate his messages in an era of tele-watching, i.e., from a distance. And so, it is legitimate and perhaps even reasonable to doubt the spontaneity of his gesture.

But it remains a completely unprceedented fact to be noted both in the Cavaliere's public life as in his biography. In other words, and in a simpler form: Berlusconi has never been the type to acknowledge that anyone could be more powerful than he. He treats the planet's most important leaders, like Bush and Putin, as equals. [And why shouldn't he?] He usually uses regal language, and names his associates as apostles, missionaries or knights, and when he makes jokes, he usually sees himself at the summit of Olympus or on celestial heights....

But as we saw yesterday, for the first time, Silvio Berlusconi admitted the existence of a figure that is above him. An unusual act of humility that is also a blow to the secular state. The paradoxes of the post-political era are getting to be more peculiar indeed.

Well, I don't know enough about Berlusconi or Italian politics to speculate why he did what he did. All I know is that it was a welcome gesture, after all the repeated care taken by his predecessor, Romano Prodi, to distance himself from the Church, defining himself aND the Catholics in his cabinet as 'adult Catholics' - as though all other Italian Catholics who follow the Church and its teachings are 'juveniles' led by the nose.


Here is Andrea Tornielli's account of the meeting:

Gifts, smiles and small talk,
then 40 minutes of conversation
in 'special accord'

by Andrea Tornielli
Translated from

The second official audience given to Silvio Berlusconi as head of tHE Italian government by Papa Ratzinger took place in a friendly relaxed atmosphere.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by bis cabinet undersecteary Gianni Letta, arrived early at the Aposolic Palace and had to wait a few minutes in the antechamber.

Benedict XVI did not wait for his guest at the door to his private library but walked forward to greet him. Both the Cavlaiere and Letta bowed to kiss the Pope's ring.

Upon seeing Letta, the Pope exlaimed, "I greet an old friend - he's young, but he's an old friend". [Letta is one of the 'Pope's gentlemen' who serve unpaid as attendants of the Pope and his papal household at official functions. Before Vatican-II, they were known as papal chamberlains, and usually belong to families who have been associated with the Popes for centuries. Modern Popes have also conferred the honorific, such as Benedict XVI did with Mario Agnes, after he retired as editor of Osservatore Romano.]

While the cameras immortalized the moment of encounter in the Throne Room which precedes the library, Berlusconi joked about the ability of photographers to 'sell' their photos. The PoPe smiled and asked his guests to come into the library.

Before they started their private talk, the Pope asked the Premier about his mother Rosa, who died recently and whom he had met during an audience.

"She was a very devout woman," Berlusconi said. "She had extraordinary faith. She prayed the rosary every day, and she carried out her activities to the end. She liked to visit nuns in their convents and bring them gifts...."

Then the media were shown out, and the Pope remained with Berlusconi and Letta for the next 40 minutes.

The agenda was confimed later by a communique from the Holy See [and by Berlusconi''s statements to Italian TV]. ...

After the private meeting, the rest of the official delegation was presented to the Pope. To Paolo Bonaiuti, Berlusoni's other cabient under-secretary, the Pope remarked; "Finally we meet in person! I actually see you often on TV".

The head of protocol at Palazzo Chigi [official residence of the Prime Minister], Eugenio Ficorilli, had the top button of his jacket undone. Before presenting him, Berlusconi reached out to button it, and turned to the Pope, saying, "He has not learned to button his clothes - see what I have to do as Prime Minister!"

Then, the exchange of gifts. Berlusconi [who is reputed to be Italy's richest man] had ordered a gold pectoral cross adorned with topazes and diamonds with certain symbolisms. For instance, twelve gems each for the number of Apostles, and the topazes, he explained, "were believed by Clement V to be bearers of health and healing".

The cross photographed from different angles and lighting. [Thanks to Beatrice for the photos.]

"It's an original that we ordered specially for you," he told the Pope. Then, he indicated a leaflet in the case with a detailed explanation of the piece. "When you have a minute, you may read here what every feature means..."

The Pope, in his turn, presented Berlusconi with a large 17th century engraving of the Basilica of St. Peter, and a commemorative pen from a limited series produced for the 500th anniversary of the Basilica.

Before leaving the Pope's presence, Berlusconi admonished his delegation, "Now you have to work more, with more passion and enthusiasm."

00Sunday, June 8, 2008 11:49 PM

Thanks to Beatrice, we now know that the Archdiocese of Paris has opened a site dedicated to the Pope's visit in September.

Here are some of the graphics now available.


The Paris site already has a lot of material posted, including a detailed program and various preparatory articles. I will post the program as soon as translated.

Information on the Pope's visit to Lourdes after Paris will be available on the official site for the 150th jubilee celebration of the Marian apparitions:

00Thursday, June 12, 2008 10:36 PM

Hosting the Pope's 2008 Summer Vacation, July 28-Aug.11

Translated news items from the diocesan site:

'It is a pleasure to go
to Bressanone for my vacation'

VATICAN CITY, June 11 - At the General Audience today in t. Peter's Square, Fr. Josef Gelmi presented the Holy Father with his new book entitled Die Päpste mit dem Namen Benedikt (The Popes named Benedict).

Pope Benedict XVI expressed his pleasure at being able to return to Bressanone this summer for his annual vacation, staying at the Seminario Maggiore where he had stayed during ten previous summer vacations before he became Pope.

When Fr. Gelmi told the Pope that the region of Alto Adige, but especially the city of Bressanone, was looking forward to his visit in July-August this year, the Holy Father replied with a big joyous smile: "It is a pleasure to go to Bressanone for my vacation."

Fr. Gelmi was able to show the Pope some pictures in the book, pointing out research data that showed how Maria Tauber Peintner, Joseph Ratzinger's maternal grandmother, and her husband Isidor Rieger, had undergone a pre-marital investigation in Rio di Pusteria, and how the parish priest at the time had noted that "The bride is well-prepared in religion".

The Holy Father expressed his pleasure at the new data, as well as photos in the book that show his South Tyrolean origins .

About the book

The papacy as a rock but also a stumbling block is the contrast that emerges in Fr. Josef Gelmi's book, Die Päpste mit dem Namen Benedikt.

Thus, among the Popes named Benedict, there have been saints as well as sinners, although "the light of the holy Benedicts shines more brilliantly, compared to teh shadows of the sinner Benedicts", the author said at the presentation of the book in Bressanone earlier this month.

Gelmi states facts as they are and in doing so, challenges the reader to consider the Papacy more attentively.

The book starts with a presentation of St. Benedict of Norcia, who is the point of reference as well as patron saint for all the Popes named Benedict. Gelmi also presents a survey of the Alto Adige convents that follow the Benedictine rule.

Then follows a description of the Popes who chose to be named Benedict, with a brief historical overview of their Pontificates.

He points out some curiosities, such as his hypothesis that the fist Pope to come to Bressanone was Benedict VIII, and the strange fact that Benedict IX actually came to Peter's Chair three times. [Quick look at Wikipedia: Born Theophylactus to the Roman Count of Tusculum, he was Pope from 1032 to 1044, again in 1045, and finally from 1047 to 1048, the only man to have served as Pope for three discontinuous periods and the only man ever to have sold the papacy. He was also one of the youngest Popes, having first become one at age 12 or age 18.]

Benedict IX's short but incredibly 'dramatic' Pontificate is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the papacy. [His father first got him the Papacy in 1032, though he was known to have led a dissolute life, which apparently went on even after he became Pope. Sample comments: St. Peter Damian described him as "feasting on immorality" and "a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest" in the Liber Gomorrhianus.... He was accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of "many vile adulteries and murders."... Pope Victor III in his third book of Dialogues, referred to "his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a Pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it." He was unseated briefly by an anti-Pope, but regained the Papacy after a year, only to sell it shortly afterwards to his godfather... The story becomes more confused as to how he came back for a third term, disputing the papacy at one time with two other men. Not a pretty story at all!]

Of course, Fr. Gelmi devotes much of the book to the present Pope Benedict, going into details of Joseph Ratzinger's South Tyrolean ancestry.

'My beloved South Tyrol'

Another book written in German, Mein geliebtes Suedtirol, written by Fathers Josef Innerhofer and Fr. Karl Gruber, was presented at pastoral center of Bolzano on May 16.

Fr. Innerhofer writes about the 10 previous vacations of Joseph Ratzinger in Bressanone, illustrated with photographs taken by Fr. Gruber.

Fr. Innerhofer also writes about other Popes who had a special relationship with the Alto Adige region. Most famously, the bishop-prince Poppo, who ended up becoming Pope in 1048 (ending the three-sided dispute that involved Benedict IX), taking the name of Damasus II.

Then there's Pius II (1458-1464) who kept the parish of Sarentino as a 'prebenda' for the Emperor Frederick II; Pius VI, who said Mass at the Cathedral of Bressanone in 1782; and John Paul II, who said Mass at the Marian Shrine of Pietralba in 1988.

00Friday, June 13, 2008 12:52 AM
I'd like to read that book!
I'll certainly consider buying "Mein Geliebtes Sud Tirol", despite the fact that it's not been translated into English and probably won't be. It's over forty years since I've read a whole book in German, but I'm prepared to have a bash. I think the photos will be more than worth gazing at too! [SM=g27829]
00Saturday, June 14, 2008 1:13 AM
Paparatzifan found it among the pictures taken after the GA on 6/11/08. Is it a super-breed of chickens, perhaps, to upgrade the pontifical poultry in Castel Gandolfo?

In any case, it's very heartwarming to see the Universal Pastor receiving chickens as a gift, much like a country priest still does in the rural areas of the Third World (and very likely, of some European countries as well, as in rural Italy)....

Would the Prefect of the Pontifical Household allow larger animals, too, like pigs and sheep and cows? Or even elephants and pandas - not really utilitarian but fun (Papi could donate them to a zoo)....

00Tuesday, June 17, 2008 5:09 AM

Hosting the Pope's 2008 Summer Vacation, July 28-Aug.11

Diocesan update on
preparations for
the Pope's vacation

BRESSANONE, June 16 (Translated from SIR) - Benedict XVI will spend his summer vacation in Bressanone from July 28 to August 11 together with his brother, Mons. Georg Ratzinger.

This was confirmed at a enws conference today (June 16) by Fr. Thomas Stuerz, coordinator of the papal visit for the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone.

"Before he was elected Pope, Benedict XVI, chose Bressanone for his annual summer vacation ten times in the period between 1978 to 2004. Together with him as guests at the Seminario Maggiore of Bressanone, were his brother Georg and their sister Maria ,before she died in 1991," said Stuerz.

"Both the Pope and his brother will be in a place they already know, the rooms they had, a private chapel for their daily Masses and prayers, the library and the garden of the seminary," Stuerz added. But he would not say anything about any excursions planned by the Pope while in the Alto Adige this summer.

"Unlike his predecessor John Paul II who loved to take excursions, Benedict XVI prefers brief walks," he commented. "We have a list of possible places he could visit, but nothing has been decided. The Pope had said he wants to spend two weeks of rest, during which the daytime will be devoted primarily to study, prayer and writing."

The only 'public' moments of the Pope's vacation will be the two occasions when he will lead the Sunday Angelus from the Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square) of Bressanone on August 3 and 10.

Organizers will make available 9,000 tickets for each occasion, although "According to preliminary estimates, we expect some 15,000 pilgrims to come to the city those two Sundays," according to the mayor of Bressanone, Albert Puergstaller. "Those who cannot get any of the 9,000 free tickets available for each Sunday - which will enable them to have a place in Piazza Duomo - will be able to follow the event on maxi-screens which will be set up in the southern part of the city."

The diocese has already received some 8,000 requests online for the tickets, but the various parishes still have to send in the names for their respective groups.

For security reasons, the historic center of Bressanone will be closed during those two Sundays. Only pilgrims with tickets, as well as the residents of the area, will be allowed access.

During the Pope's stay in Bressanone, businesses will remain open on Sundays, although the bishop, Mons. Wilhelm Egger, has asked that that they should respect Sunday rest.

00Thursday, June 19, 2008 4:31 AM

Hosting the Pope's 2008 Summer Vacation, July 28-Aug.11

During Pope's vacation,
Bressanone seminary will be
the Vatican under

Translated from

June 17, 2008

BRESSANONE - For two weeks during the Pope's summer vacation in this city (July 28-August 11), the zone of the Seminario Maggiore - the entire area that will be fenced off for the duration - will be considered Vatican territory.

Since the seminary is the property of the Church, it will be under the 'extra-territorial' privilege of the Vatican while the Pope resides there. Therefore, it will be the Vatican police who will be primarily responsible for its security.

The Pope's entourage when he comes to Bressanone will include at least 25 persons. The seminary where they will be staying will be a 'Vatican island' - protected from outside view by a three-meter-high temporary fence and defended by a nucleus of Vatican police specialists.

This is possible because Vatican state has extra-territorial privileges in Italy. Outside the 0.44 square kilometers that it occupies within Rome, it has ten other permanent sites with extra-territorial status throughout Italy - places which, like foreign embassies in any country, are considered the territory of their respective nations.

The same privilege attaches to any place where the Pope goes ad interim - in this case, the Seminario Maggiore and its gardens.

Int eh past few weeks, the seminary has undergone a major facelift in preparation for the Pope's vacation.

"It;s work that would have been done, in any case," said Fr. Thomas Stuerz, diocesan coordinator of the Pope's vacation. "The last time any work was done on the building was 50 years ago, but the criteria then were very different from the needs today."

Thus, not all the work has to do directly with the Pope's visit. A major novelty is the installation of elevators for the aged and the disabled. The seminarians rooms are being renovated to that each will have its own bathroom and telephone. Outside, workmen have just finished restoring the pavement in porphyry.

A few days before the Pope arrives, the metal fence will be set up around the theological institute and the seminary, and police surveillance will start in order to safeguard the Pope's privacy during his stay. The fence, which will be covered with solid vinyl sheeting, is also intended to discourage people from loitering in the area in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Pope and snap pictures.

"This way, the Pope can feel free to walk about the gardens or go to the library without worrying that he might be under observation, Fr. Stuerz said."

Meanwhile, all the tickets available online for the two Angelus prayers to be led by the Pope in Bressanone were snapped up in less than two days. Parishes in the diocese have their quotas to distribute to their parishioners.

For those who cannot get tickets, two maxi-screens will be set up at the Acquarena parking lot, as well as within the Cathedral to accommodate older people to keep them out of the sun.

00Saturday, June 21, 2008 4:19 PM

Hosting the Pope's Summer Vacation, July 28-August 11, 2008

Maybe this time, he will visit
his grandparents' hometown?

Translated from

June 18, 2008

BRESSANONE - No announcements are expected about any possible excursions for Pope Benedict XVI during his two-week summer vacation here, but he will spend it with his brother Georg, as he did on ten previous occasions.

[This will be the first time since Joseph Ratzinger became Pope that Georg is able to join him on his summer vacation before going to Castel Gandolfo for the rest of the summer. In the first three years, the Pope went to Les Combes in Val D'Aosta and then Lorenzago di Cadore - both at moderate altitudes, which apparently, his older brother cannot tolerate for health reasons.]

But will they visit Rio di Pusteria, his maternal grandmother's hometown, and where there is a family grave?

Fr. Thomas Stuerz, who is coordinating the papal visit for the diocese of Bressanone-Bolzano, says: "We know there are certain places he wishes to visit, but we cannot say it for security reasons. The important thing is for him to rest well after a long journey to Australia which will be packed with activity."

Stuerz also added that he does not think Benedict XVI will take any mountain excursions like John Paul II did. He pointed out the Pope will very likely spend much time reading and writing, recalling that he had written the first four chapters of JESUS OF NAZARETH (volume 1) during his last vacation in Bressanone in August 2004.

Seminary rector will be
the Pope's actual host
in Bressanone

Translated from

June 18, 2008

Fr. Muser with Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004; right, the Seminario Maggiore while it underwent a facelift recently.
Below left, the seminary is the backdrop for the first of two 'logos' that the diocese has designed for the visit;
the other features the Cathedral of Bressanone as the backdrop

BRESSANONE - Don Ivo Muser, dean of the Cathedral of Bressanone and rector of its Seminario Maggiore, will not be a stranger to Pope Benedict XVI, whom he has hosted three times before as rector of the seminary where the cardinal has been a paying summer guest ten times in the past 20 years.

So how do you feel this time about the Pope's arrival? Happy?
Happy is an understatement. It is an immense joy for me to be able to welcome once again someone who has been our guest for ten years when he was cardinal, and who now comes to us for the 11th time, as Pope.

Did you get to know him?
I would say so. As I said, in the past two decades, Joseph Ratzinger, as a cardinal and as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was here many times, and I had the honor of hosting him as rector of the seminary the last three times.

During the weeks he was with us, I had the pleasure of celebrating morning Mass with him and his brother every day, we would have breakfast together, and I had many chances to discuss various things with him. In short, I would say I had the honor of being in his presence quite often when he was here.

Will you stay at the Seminary during the Pope's vacation here?
Yes, since I live in the seminary myself. Also staying on will be the 'heart' of our home, Suor Maria Pieta. She is 77 years old but she has managed the Seminary household for over 40 years and she knows the Pope quite well. I think she will be able to work well with the papal family - his secretaries and the sisters who keep house for him.

Why do you think the Pope chose Bressanone for his vacation this year?
His Holiness could have chosen any part of the world in which to spend his summer vacation. He is invited everywhere, so it wasn't for lack of choices! If he chose Bressanone, it's probably because he has enjoyed himself here before and has learned to love our city.

For my part, I can only wish that these two weeks will be spent in tranquillity, with his brother, doing the things that he likes doing best: praying, reading, writing, taking walks.

00Thursday, June 26, 2008 4:45 AM
Caption Call - What's Under my hat?
Found this on Fr Z's blog ... a caption call I couldn't resist .. some comments that I like out of the 44 submitted!  Enchoy.  Made me think of Mary at the GA today, a red hat day ...

   Comtemplating which of the many beautiful surprises he keeps “under his hat” he will next reveal to the delight of the faithful.Comment by Meeting Christ in the Liturgy 

Vher on earth did zee rabbit go!? Comment by The Pledger

Hey, where did that tortilla go that I hid in my fancy red hat? Comment by Jim  Vait ‘til you see vatt I pull out of dis hat next, ja!Comment by Gregg the Obscure  “Hans? Hans Kung? Is that you hiding in my Christmas sombrero?”“Aight! Which of you peons warped my frisbee!?”

“This is one big beer mug coaster.”  Comment by PNP, OP


I make this look good…  Comment by Jason

 “They told me I couldn’t bring the cats when I moved into the papal apartment but…......They haven’t heard about the Cat in the Hat!”   Comment by M


My Head is how big?!  Comment by Fr. Dan Well, at least it matches my shoes.Comment by Lacrimarum Valle One size fits ….  Me!Comment by Kazimir 

What? Made in China!  You’fe got to be kidding!  Nossing is sacred zese days!

Comment by Mitchell Bond


Hmmm … I vanduh if I could get this in a smaller size for Chico?

Comment by Corripe Cervisiam

 [SM=x40791] [SM=x40791] [SM=x40791]

00Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:49 AM

Papa and the Hat

I thought he was just looking to see which side the tag was on so he could put the hat on facing the right direction.

Then again, he might have a list of important "reminders" inside:

"Greet band from Bavaria.

Bless new statue.

Watch out for Concetta.

Wave to Maryjos.

Check out two new donated vehicles."

00Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:17 PM

The Forum was 'offline' for several hours today - before I could catch up with new posts during my morning Forum 'exercise'! Anyway, great was my surprise - although I shouldn't have been, but I keep under-estimating the triviality-frivolity level of the MSM - to see that the AP and Reuters had picked up Juan Manuel de Prada's [fancy the journalist happening to have that family name, a surname familar to me long long before Prada, the Milanese house, came to the fashion scene, because one of my great aunts had married a Spaniard with that family name] OR story yesterday to run with it under the headline 'Vatican denies the Pope wears Prada'. And here I was, earnestly running my translation of the OR story yesterday 9see NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT] as a 'philosophical' lead-off, more or less, in a trilogy of liturgy stories!

'The Pope does not wear Prada' is a news story? Hasn't it been denied over and over by various sources in the Vatican, named and unnamed, since the Daily Telegraph first peddled the canard back in 2005? I suppose what made it 'news' for the MSM this time was that it was written so in black and white in the 'Pope's newspaper' itself.

But then, the second obvious thing about their reporting was that they very deliberately chose not to run with what is the quintessential headline-soundbite from that story, namely, "The Pope does not wear Prada - he wears Christ". But oh no!, that would not have been p.c. at all! 'Christ' in a headline? God forbid!

So, here, for the record, are the latest entries in the Triviality-Frivolity Media Oscars:

Vatican: Pope Benedict XVI
doesn't wear Prada

VATICAN CITY, June 26 (AP) - The devil may wear Prada — but the pope does not.

According to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the bright red loafers that Pope Benedict XVI wears are not designed by the Milanese fashion house, as has long been rumored.

"Obviously the attribution was false," the Vatican newspaper said in its Thursday's editions.

"Such rumors are inconsistent with the simple and somber man who, on the day of his election to the papacy, showed to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and to the whole world the sleeves of a modest black sweater," it said.

Still, Benedict's fashion sense has often drawn media attention.

Three years ago around Christmas, he showed up for his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap that could have passed for a Santa Claus hat. The hat, as it turned out, is a "camauro," which dates back to the Middle Ages and figures in many papal portraits.

On a separate occasion, Benedict sported a sumptuous red velvet cape trimmed in ermine — another piece of traditional papal attire that had long been abandoned.

L'Osservatore Romano said the Pope's interest in clothes has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with liturgy — what symbolism traditional garments can bring to the Christian liturgy.

"The Pope, therefore, does not wear Prada, but Christ," L'Osservatore said.

Pope doesn't wear Prada:
Vatican newspaper

ROME, June 26 (Reuters) - After years of speculation that Pope Benedict wears shoes by Prada, the Vatican's official newspaper denied such talk as "frivolous."

Esquire magazine last year named the 81-year-old Pontiff "accessorizer of the year" for his red leather loafers that fashionistas had said were probably made by the Italian fashion house.

While the Vatican had never confirmed or denied if the shoes were Prada, continued chatter about the Pope's dress sense led the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano to print a condemnation of media stories it said trivialized the head of the Church.

Esquire's inclusion of the Pope on its best-dressed men list was, it said, "of a frivolity that is very characteristic of an era that tends to trivialize and does not understand."

The article explained that the Pope's shoes, like his range of flamboyant hats, are nothing to do with vanity but all to do with tradition. "The Pope, in summary, does not wear Prada, but Christ," it said.

The article did not say who did make the shoes. [Because that was not the point of the story at all! And because all it takes is a Google search to find out who the papal cobbler is.]

Benedict's choice of garments has often been striking. On recent drives through St. Peter's Square he shaded himself from the fierce June sun under a wide-rimmed bright red hat known as a "Saturn" after the planet with the rings.

Around Christmas 2005 he delighted pilgrims by appearing in a red velvet cap trimmed with white fur which, together with a scarlet cape, gave him the look of Santa Claus.

The Osservatore noted that both hats, far from being fashion items, are in fact traditional papal accessories that have been worn at various points in history by previous Popes. [Facts, of course, that no one needs the OR to tell us in the age of Google!]

And to cap our 'delightful runway romp' today, let's hear it from the fashion commentator of the Times of London!

Comment: Not Prada, but still very 2008

Times expert says Pope Benedict is no fashion victim,
and might even be a fashion leader

by Carolyn Asome, Deputy Fashion Editor

Pope Benedict XVI is not your most obvious nomination as style icon. In his papal cassock he hardly cuts the continental dash of a brooding Jose Mourinho or musters up the tailored swagger of a pin-striped, suited and booted Bill Nighy.

And yet, despite the Vatican's assertions that the Pope is not concerned with frivolity and only pays a great deal of attention to his clothing because of its liturgical significance, it was hardly going to go unnoticed that the Pope used to cross St. Peter’s Square from his office to his flat wearing a black beret and black overcoat. Why? Because it’s a sartorial combination that immediately evokes ‘Gallic charm meets the Beatniks’. [COLORE]#1216FF[=COLORE][What do the beatniks have to do with it? They picked up the beret as an affectation from the French. Surely, Asome doesn't mean to imply that Ratzinger was a 'beatnik' in any way! And if she somehow found the cardinal's beret a fashion statement in any way, why then did her editor give this caption to one of three picture the Times used with her story: 'From his days as a rather austere cardinal, Benedict has cut quite a dash as Pontiff' for a picture showing the Pope wlaling by the two little buggies presented to him after the GA yesterday.]

Similarly, canny fashion observers will have noted that his shoes of choice weren’t Prada – as the rumours went – but were made by a local Italian cobbler. In stealth wealth terms, it’s infinitely more sophisticated to choose an artisanal product - with all the attention to detail and quality that is usually associated with buying something handmade - than settling for a brand that any WAG could get her hands on. [If you were the Pope and you lived in Italy, it goes without saying every shoemaker in the country would fall over each other to present you with handmade shoes! I'm only surprised there are not more doing just that. But then, how many shoes can you wear at once?]

The intention might not have been there but it’s interesting that Pope Benedict opts for the non-label rather than just any label. As for those Geox trainers or the Serengeti sunglasses, well the jury’s still out on their fashion merit but we should remember that he lives surrounded by Italy, and that most Italians are partial to a trainer with a hint of bling.

It’s the resurrection of the liturgical headgear that appears to be creating the biggest storm: the sorry reality, however, is that the fur trims on his Caumaro hat are more likely to anger anti-fur protesters than fashion spectators. But coming from a Church that likes its menfolk to wear elaborately embroidered robes, should that surprise us?

Colour is celebrated ( purple during Advent and Lent, and red during Pentecost). What’s more eery, nay coincidental, is how this austerity (black/minimal tailoring) mixed with a fusion of berry shades just happens to be very Autumn/Winter 2008 – or at least on the catwalks.


P.S. Even more outrageous is Italian media reporting about the Pope in the 6/26/08 newspapers. Lella on her blog compiles the stories in some of the leading newspapers - none of which reported at all about the Pope's General Audience nor about the liturgical news that was in Mons. Marini's lengthy interview with OR.

For them, the 'stories' that deserved reporting were the Prada denial and the fact that the Italian firm Piaggio donated two buggies [three-wheeled vehicles nicknamed 'Ape' [Bee]) to the Pope:

Il Panama di Napolitano e il Saturno di Ratzinger (Il Mattino)
*referring to hats worn by the Italian President and by the Pope

Due "ape" piaggio per il papa (Repubblica)

Benedetto XVI non veste Prada (Repubblica)

L'annuncio del Vaticano: 'Il Papa non veste Prada' (Corriere della sera)

Un'Ape per Benedetto XVI (Corriere)

Colaninno regala due veicoli Ape-Calessino a Papa Ratzinger (Il Sole 24 Ore)

Piaggio, Colaninno incontra il Papa
e festeggia il 60° anniversario dell'Ape
(Il Resto del Carlino)

Il Papa non veste Prada: Parola dell'Osservatore Romano (Il Resto del Carlino)

Il Papa sull’Ape della Piaggio (Il Tirreno)

00Friday, June 27, 2008 5:59 AM

Reuters & AP are always late/misinformed. They should join the Papa Ratzinger Forum. I'm really not thrilled about the choice of the word 'flamboyant' to describe Papa's hats. I agree that "The Pope does not wear Prada, but Christ," is a great quote & would have been a better title. The Times article is a bit better. I won't be suprised if somewhere someone is making a slide-show of Papa's various "outfits."

00Tuesday, July 1, 2008 2:49 AM

What happened to the "Pope Room" in Buca Di Beppo restaurants after the death of Pope John Paul II?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Monday, June 30, 2008

The Italian restaurant chain, with locations in Westlake and Strongsville, was in a quandary after the death of the beloved John Paul II, whose rotating bust joined diners in the restaurant chain's "Pope Room."

In April 2005, the chain removed the Catholic leader's bust from all of its restaurants after he fell gravely ill.

The spokesman for the chain at the time, Bob Kleiber, said, "We just didn't think people would want to look at his image at that time. It wasn't in good taste."

But a plan to replace John Paul II with the bust of less-recognizable popes went down like stale ciabatta.

Patrons sent e-mails asking for the return of John Paul II. Diners complained that the "Pope Room" wasn't the same with no pope. And the chain wasn't sure what it would do.

"This isn't like choosing between old Coke and new Coke," Kleiber said. "This is the pope."

They went with new pope.

Shortly after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, the chain had his bust spinning on family-style tabletops in its 89 restaurants. The Buca Web site carries a photo of the pope's bust, with a word balloon in which he says: "Table for XVI, please."

Buca Di Beppo donated the John Paul II statues to Catholic churches and schools.

So enjoy some "ravioli al pomodoro," perhaps a nice antipasto and, of course, the "gellato della casa" in the company of the pontiff. He's the perfect companion for pre-meal grace: "Praise the Lord. And pass the pasta."

- Mike McIntyre
00Tuesday, July 1, 2008 12:48 PM

'Vintage' Pope Benedict XVI, media victim
by Martine Nouaille

How many 'legs' can MSM invent for trivia? Why does an agency like Agence France Presse waste time, effort and printer's ink on rehashing something that wasn't even news to begin with, and that has already been so throughly ventilated, dissected and expatiated to death in the past few days? An excuse to work in a comment from the usual unnamed 'prelate' who thinks he is dissing the Pope by making a statement like the last one in this report which does not even make sense at all?

VATICAN CITY, July 1 (AFP) - Pope watchers have been put on notice that the Vatican does not take kindly to facile labels like "retro" or "vintage" when discussing the sartorial choices of Pope Benedict XVI.

After insistent rumours that the Pope's red shoes were from luxury house Prada, the Vatican finally put the matter to rest.

Benedict, 81, is a "simple and sober man (who is) not dressed by Prada but by Christ," the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano wrote last week, noting that the colour symbolises the blood of martyrs.

While his Serengeti sunglasses may have helped the Pope make Esquire magazine's list of the world's best-dressed men last year -- he was named "Accessorizer of the Year" -- Pope watchers have noted an apparent hankering for the past both in his vestments and in his liturgical choices.

These include lace or richly embroidered surplices, centuries-old mitres and a red wool camauro cap with ermine trim that goes back to the 12th century and had last been worn by John XXIII, who died in 1963.

Benedict has also brought back the ombrellino, a small umbrella used to symbolise the Pope's temporal powers. [Get out of it! It hass nothing to do with the Pope! It's a 'canopy' for the Blessed Sacrament. Look at the size! ]

Many see in the latest changes the hand of Monsignor Guido Marini, a discreet prelate who became the new master of pontifical liturgical celebrations in October.

Marini, who has largely kept the press at arm's length, gave his first interview to an Italian daily, Il Giornale, in May, which reportedly upset the Vatican with its headline: "The Vintage Pope". [Surely you invent! The Vatican is not as petty as MSM! No one could be.]

This is perhaps why Marini turned to [It's the Vatican newspaper, he doesn't have to 'turn to' it; it creates the opportunity for him] the Osservatore Romano, which carried his explanation that the use of age-old liturgical accessories was aimed at reinforcing a "sense of mystery" and "the sacred".

The Pope caused a stir at an open-air Mass in southern Italy last month when he offered communion wafers to pilgrims kneeling on a prie-dieu -- a type of bench used by a person at prayer -- rather than standing. [What stir? There was no stir at all, if only because the 'precedent' was already set at the Corpus Domini Mass, which was duly noted in the news but without a real 'stir'. Even the most hidebound liberal cannot possibly state an objection to Communion on the tongue! What would they say - that the Lord does not deserve such deference? That kneeling for the Lord is humiliating for the faithful?]

Kneeling for communion was never prohibited, but the practice -- along with many others considered as reflecting a paternalistic interpretation of the priesthood -- was largely abandoned after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. [But aren't priests called 'Father' precisely because they are supposed to be fathers to their flock? What are they - nothing better than drinking buddies and emcees of the social Mass which is in itself a travesty of the Mass as a Sacrament recreating the Lord's Sacrifice?]

The generally practised alternative, considered less intimidating, is for the priest to put the sacred wafer into the hand of the worshipper standing before him, who then puts it into his or her own mouth. [What on earth is intimidating about kneeling to receive the Body of Christ? Kneeling is an act of reverence, and reverence comes naturally - or should, especially for the Lord.]

Last year Benedict rehabilitated the 16th-century Latin Mass in certain circumstances, saying the old and new forms of the Mass should "mutually enrich each other".

Marini predicted that the Pope would continue to offer communion wafers into the mouths of kneeling pilgrims in future celebrations.

He said the practice "aids the devotion of the faithful, and makes it easier to enter into the sense of mystery."

Rejecting labels of pre- and post-Vatican II, Marini said: "The Church lives according to the law of continuity in virtue of which it recognises development rooted in tradition."

Comparing practices before and after Vatican II, he added, is "mistaken and typical of highly reductive ideological views."

One prelate, on condition of anonymity [Yellow-livered dissident! - but then, he would want to be anonymous to say something so inane!] told AFP of his misgivings about the changes underway at the Vatican.

"The liturgical celebration is first of all a spiritual encounter between believers and Christ. The increasingly insistent focus on ritual could give this encounter a constrained feeling."

00Saturday, July 5, 2008 8:17 AM

Castel Gandolfo's affectionate welcome
for its most prominent 'resident'

Translated from the
Italian service of

On Wednesday evening, the citizens of Castel Gandolfo welcomed Pope Benedict XVI for the first time this summer with great emotion and affection. Amedeo Lomonaco spoke to town mayor Maurizio Colacchi about this:

MAYOR COLACCHI: The welcome was, as usual, very affectionate on the part of our citizens. I was very privileged because I had the honor of welcoming the Holy Father when he came off the helicopter and then to walk with him through the gardens and into the villa. It is always a joyful occasion, a unique one - the Holy Father always has such a big smile for everyone.

What did you feel the first time Pope Benedict spent the summer in Castel Gandolfo in 2005?
With him, it is always extraordinary. He looks at you directly in the eyes, as if he is looking into you. Of course, this captivates you and intensifies your feeling of involvement. We have learned to speak of the Holy Father among us with respectful familiarity.

The other thing I most appreciate about being with Benedict XVI - each time, I am struck by the affectionate way in which he sends his best wishes to my wife. It always leaves me without words!

John Paul II once called Castel Gandolfo "Vatican number 2". What is Castel Gandolfo's special link to the Pope, and in particular, to Benedict XVI?
Well, for one thing - and this is very important for us - Benedict XVI became the first Pope ever to enter our town hall, when we inaugurated a stele in honor of John Paul II. And precisely on that occasion, of course, we recalled him calling Castel Gandolfo 'Vatican-II.

But truly, the sensation when the Holy Father arrives in town is always very strong : the very atmosphere seems to change, and you feel life is transformed. It's truly extraordinary.

And are you ready to deal with the pilgrims and tourists?
Of course. Thanks to the work by the forces of law and order, our firemen, and by the Vatican police, we can be sure everyone will be safe, and that the Holy Father will be free of concerns so he can enjoy his stay here in total tranquillity.

Do you have anything particular planned this year?
A very special one. The town council has decided to confer honorary citizenship on the Pope's brother, Mons. Georg Ratzinger. The ceremony of conferment will take place on August 21.

But before that, we will have a special concert in the town square on August 6 to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI, who did so much for Castel Gandolfo.

00Tuesday, July 8, 2008 3:55 AM


On Saturday, a group of prelates and faithful from Regensburg was received by Pope Benedict XVI in a special audience at Castel Gandolfo. The Vatican has released the transcript of the brief remarks he made to them on the occasion:

Dear friends, I am very happy for your visit. It revives in me the memory of that wonderful day on which I was able to bless the new organ, the Benedikt-Orgel, at the Alte Kappelle (in September 2006).

It remains indelibly in my mind how we experienced together the joy that comes from God - in the harmony from that excellent organ and the choir led by Maestro Kohlhauefl, the beauty of that luminous Church - not just the 'spark of the gods' that Schiller described, but the splendor of the Holy Spirit's flame which made us feel in our deepest being that which we know from the Gospel of John: that God himself is joy. A joy that is communicated to us.

I am happy that this organ continues to be heard and can thus help the faithful sense something of the splendor of our faith - a splendor kindled by the Holy Spirit himself. And through this, the organ carries out an evangelizing function - it announces the Gospel in its own way.

We cannot offer you here an organ or a choir, but there is the beauty of the 'castle' and the beauty of the south (of Europe) which can be seen everywhere. Even if the sun at this time is making itself felt a bit too abundant perhaps, it is the light of the South - like a little celebration that will be for all of you a beautiful memory to take back home.

I also see that you have brought us gifts, so I wish to express my thanks in advance, that you did not come with empty hands. I wish you the most beautiful and worthwhile days here in Rome. Please bring back my most heartfelt greetings to Regensburg and the Alte Kapelle.

Alte Kapelle, which literally means Old Chapel, is formally called the Collegiate Basilica Church of Our Lady and is home to a massive organ now known as the Pope Benedict Organ. The church, built around the year 1000, occupies the entire southern end of the city's old Wheat-Market square and was originally the chapel of the ducal palace.

With its ornate gold-and-white interior, it is considered one of the most beautiful rococo churches in Europe.

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